The appearance panel.

The appearance panel, or as it used to be known, the appearance palette. This is where it all goes down.  The key to making versatile, live art that will allow you to shrug off your boss changing the name of the project from “Penguin Playset” to ” Arctic Adventure”  This will allow you to create art that can rival the raster effects you get in Photoshop and at times do it better and more extensibly (Did I just make that word up?  Nope!)  So, instead of setting your text, copy/pasting it behind, adding your stroke, copying to the front, adding a glow, etc… and making a stack of objects to get one result, you can do this all from within one object.  Multiple strokes, multiple fills, effects applied specifically to a single fill or stroke. Gradients on a stroke. Live text with a gradient. Yeap.

That’s live text. Grab the live .ai file. Use your own fonts if you don’t have these.

The basic concept:

Attributes, that is a stroke or a fill, can be applied on a few different levels.  You’re probably accustomed to them applied at the object level, (your ellipse has a stroke and a fill by default) but that’s only one of 4. Attributes can be applied (from highest to lowest power) to the layer, the group, the object, and then in the case of text, to the characters themselves.

Secondary concept:

I said it above, but it’s important so I’ll repeat it: Effects can be applied to an individual stroke or fill. (or to a layer, group or as you know already, to an object.) and the appearance panel gives you access to all of the effects you have applied, allowing you to change them after they’re in place.

Oh, and:

The appearance panel can allow you access to the contents of your layers in a way that lets you modify them all at once.  Not as important, but handy at times so good to know.

Picking apart the example above or “Adding an additional fill to live text”

Grab the .ai file if you want to play along at home.

I’ll start from the bottom and build the simple subtext (playset/adventure) and that will hopefully get you a little grounded and then we’ll be able to dig into the (fairly complex) text with the ice effect applied to it.

We’ll start by just applying a fill as usual. Select the text and pick a color – in this case, I’ve chosen 100|30|00|0

When the cursor is within the text, it will show you the Character level attributes.

Next, we’ll add an additional fill.

With the selection tool (not the type tool) select your type object. From the flyout menu, choose “add new fill” and  it will add a new black fill to the type object above the character level where your blue fill is located.

Now, let’s turn that black fill white, feather it and drop it’s opacity a bit, exposing the blue fill beneath.

With the Type object still selected, (if you need to re-select it, remember to use the selection tool and not the text tool) click in the appearance panel on the fill that you created to select it.  With the fill selected, any effects you apply or attributes you change will only apply to the fill.

Bonus fun – if you apply them to the wrong place, simply drag them around in the appearance panel to the right place.

So go ahead and choose Effect->Stylize->Feather (that’s the upper “stylize” sub-menu – who knows why they thought it was a good idea to have two stylize sections of the same menu)

Here, we’re looking at about a 5px feather, but do as you see fit. After feathering, I also dropped the opacity of the fill to 60% – that setting is in the transparency panel

On to part two!